Ireland coach Joe Schmidt hailed Paddy Jackson's display as the fly-half's 16 points helped the 14-man visitors earn a first Test win in South Africa.
Schmidt opted to select Jackson, 24, as opposed to Ian Madigan, to replace injured Johnny Sexton in Saturday's first Test in Cape Town.
"Paddy did some super stuff," said the Ireland coach after the 26-20 win.
"He controlled the first 20 minutes of the game. We actually built our confidence through that period."
Ireland win despite Stander's first-half red card
Ireland clinched their historic victory despite having South African-born flanker CJ Stander red-carded in the first half after he knocked Springboks fly-half Patrick Lambie unconscious following a flying charge-down attempt.
The impressive Jared Payne's touchdown helped Ireland take an early 10-3 lead and while Jackson did gift Pieter-Steph du Toit an intercept try, Jackson's late penalty sealed the visitors' triumph.
Schmidt felt Stander's dismissal was "very, very harsh" but French referee Mathieu Raynal's decision will mean Irish rugby fans will look upon Saturday's result as one of the best in the country's history.
"It's pretty hard to put into words really. I thought it was an incredible collective effort," added the Ireland coach.
"The nine minutes before half-time when we were down to 13 players, to just put them out in the corner, just to scramble and work as hard as the players did to keep them out.
"For the players, I think they can be incredibly proud of the effort they put in."
Best thrilled as Irish 'make history'
Captain Rory Best made no attempt to downplay the significance of the win.
"What a way to make history, by having to do something special," said the Irish skipper, 33.
"For us, it was about the way we stood up.
"It was really tough. You can see why no Irish team has ever won here before, so to win with a man down took a lot of character. It is a very special day for us."
Man of the match Devin Toner praised new defence coach Andy Farrell's input into Ireland's stunning victory.
"He has added a new dimension," Toner said.
"We're getting off the line, we're trying to put hits in and thankfully it came off today.
South Africa 'poor' admits Coetzee
New South Africa coach Allister Coetzee said his team had been "poor" and must improve for the remaining Tests in the series over the next two weekends.
"It is a disappointing performance and a result," said Coetzee.
"It is hurting, it's not an ideal start but as a collective we take responsibility for that.
"We must also give the Irish credit. They were outstanding with 14 men. No excuses. We understand we have to fix it."